Baalbeck, Anjar and Ksara, (Lebanon)

“Heliopolis, the Sun City”, “The Wine region of Lebanon”

Anjar, Baalbeck and Ksara, Lebanon, May 2018

Our second of the major tours while visiting Lebanon was for the actual highlight of the trip itself, the fascinating Roman city of Baalbeck with its impressive constructions, some of the largest ever created across the entire former empire. This was once again, an organised tour departing from our base Beirut, same as we did the day before when visiting Byblos, Jeita and Harissa; but also including another two great sights: the small city of Anjar with its beautiful Umayyad ruins and to finalise the tour, the Ksara Caves now in use by Chateau Ksara, Lebanon’s oldest wine estate where a tasting will be offered. Both Baalbeck and Anjar are UNESCO World Heritage Sites listed, hence the added value that means for us.

While there are still some more amazing places in the country to see, we can say from our trip we are very satisfied for now, and certainly will return another occasion. Fingers crossed that by then it is at least as great as it is now; a beautiful and friendly country, safe wherever it can get, and not turning into any crisis or even a war as it’s sadly with the neighbouring country Syria.

On the same note as I explained for the previous guide on Byblos, you can find lots of tour operators over the internet offering similar day trips, however pay attention to what’s and what is not included. From this experience I found tours which did not include lunch and entrance fees to the sites, quite silly right? While other agencies were listing everything included and even at more competitive price. It’s a matter of some research then all is straightforward, and if you want to have it already done, let me tell you which one is the best for the tours we did in this country (as of May 2018): Viator. Not only the best in the quality and quantity of tours they offer, but also one of the most trustful out there as it belongs to TripAdvisor. This is the tour we selected, click here. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Byblos, Jeita and Harissa, (Lebanon)

“First city of Phoenicia”, “One of the world’s oldest inhabited cities”

2 Byblos, Jeita and Harissa, Lebanon, May 2018

Our first of the two day trip we would be doing while in Lebanon, was of course for visiting some of the greatest archaeological sites and natural wonders in the country. After all, this is one of the major reasons why to chose this country and not going just to be in the capital, Beirut. As you know by now, we are not that kind of person who travels to countries for the sake of ticking “I’ve been here” and counting up the number of countries they’ve been. Not at all and actually it is all the opposite in our case especially when travelling farther beyond Europe and considering our continuous running out of holidays because so much travelling.

So as the planning for a trip to Lebanon came to a reality, then was the hardest task, what to see and where to go. A first stage is easy for someone like me who love to collect UNESCO World Heritage Sites. A quick search and some of the answers were defined. The whole trip would pivot around Baalbeck, Byblos and Anjar, the three major WHS, and of course the capital. Anything else would be extra and very welcomed. However with such a limited time we had altogether, the only way to visit as much as we could was getting into organised tours, and so we did. This is not the first time we do so, where in certain countries is strongly recommended like in Lebanon. Yes, it’s a rather secure and safe country, but it’s nicer to refrain from driving as a tourist.

While over the internet you can find lots of tour operators offering similar day trips, pay attention to what’s and what is not included. From this experience I found tours which did not include lunch and entrance fees to the sites, quite silly right? While other agencies were listing everything included and even at more competitive price. It’s a matter of some research then all is straightforward, and if you want to have it already done, let me tell you which one is the best for the tours we did in this country (as of May 2018): Viator. Not only the best in the quality and quantity of tours they offer, but also one of the most trustful out there as it belongs to TripAdvisor. This is the tour we selected, click here. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Beirut, (Lebanon)

“European gateway to the Middle East”, “Paris of the East”, “Beirut, mother of laws”

Beirut, Lebanon, May 2018

Another country never been before, as excited as that can get for travelling onto what is it up to date, the country visited number 91! That’s a step closer to one of my desired dreams of travelling to 100 countries with the age of 35, no matter if by the first months on that age (which I know it will be impossible anyway), or if that’s by the last day before I turn 36, I will keep trying to make it a reality. In honest, the only thing that is holding me back from not doing this earlier is the huge logistic I am having in planning the holidays I have per year coupled with the bank holidays and the weekends in the best possible way to maximise the days and travel outside of Europe, since there are no more countries in the whole of Europe at the exception of Azerbaijan that I have not been.

Lebanon was for a long time now in the agenda, and considering how volatile these countries in that region can sometimes be, we thought it was about right to do it this year. You never know how the political situation or radical thoughts turn and change the fate of a country from the night to the morning, as is with the sad and unfortunate example of Syria. Lebanon nevertheless, since their civil war has been a pretty stable country, with an ongoing rising tourism, and overall rise in wealth as you can clearly see from the shiny and spotless capital city Beirut, where residential skyscrapers are the new trend, new designed neighbourhoods everywhere, and a continuous restoration of the older parts that have become 100% gentrified with great bars, cafes, pubs and incredible nightlife.

Beirut is one of the world’s oldest continuously inhabited cities where many of the greatest civilizations have gained and lost their powers for ruling over the thousands of years. From Phoenician, Hellenistic, Roman, Arab and Ottoman civilizations, to French colony and finally the Independent Republic of Lebanon after WWII. Turmoil has always been a constant threat through the centuries, and so in more recent dates as was from the 1970’s with the 15 years civil war that ripped through the country until the early 1990’s. Even since it has become once again a thriving holiday destination, centre for the arts and culture, financial and motor of the country however the unfortunate threat of terrorism is still the weakest point, as is with all the countries in this part of the world. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Muscat, (Oman)

“Cryptus Portus (the Hidden Port)”, “Moscha Portus”

Muscat, Oman, July 2017

Continuing on our journey bound for Tanzania, this is our second intermediary stop after Luxembourg City and Nancy. Muscat it is then for the entire day since the very early morning until the very late at night departure on the next and final flight into Zanzibar. Although we knew this was not that much time for such a beautiful city, it did work great for us in being the first time in this incredible country, now looking forward to discover in full in the near future and not just its capital city, but the many historic villages and that incredible ochre landscapes of the mountains and the yellow of the desert amidst the blue of the Arabian Sea.

Muscat is in any case, a small city; “narrow” but very long, with a very small historic old town in a creek flanked in between the Portuguese forts among the bendy coast and the mountains. All is there to see and visit can be perfectly done in a day, and even less, but bear in mind a very important subject here: the heat. If you are coming between March and October, it is guaranteed to be over 30 degrees during the day. That sounds still OK, until you experience the over 40 degrees, very dry, June to August months. During the night it does not really drop much and remains stable at around 30, therefore if there is something I can strongly recommend you here is to rent a car. You cannot imagine how much you will appreciate this. Muscat, as opposed to what Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Doha or Kuwait are, it is still very laid back and living in the past. Public transports are only a bunch of buses, not even as efficient as the other neighboring countries’ capitals. There are no metro system nor air-conditioned bus stops. The heat simply feels like fire, and so it did in our stay making it quite uncomfortable if I am to be honest, even though we thankfully had a rental car.

Now, what at one hand is the down-side, in the other hand this translates in a very unique city. Forget the shiny skyscrapers and islands gained into the sea as for neighboring UAE or Qatar. Forget a “westernised” world and enjoy instead a truly unspoiled Arabian experience. Its architecture, its culture, the food, the people; our country number 86 and it was stunning and a wonder! (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Jerusalem, (Israel)

“Urušalim”, “Yerushalayim”, “City of Peace”, “Fortress of Zion”, “Salem”, “City of David”

Jerusalem, Israel, March 2015

Continuing on our tour in Israel, we move onto the tourist destination number one in the country. One of the oldest cities in the world. Considered the holy center of the three Abrahamic Religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam. A city where continuous fight has never stopped through the curse of history. Palestinians claim it as their land, while Israelis do the same. Sacred for over 3000 years to Judaism, for 2000 years to Christianity and 1400 years to Islam. Three religions colliding with each other in a rather small piece of land.

It is believed Jesus was brought here after his birth, and that the Last Supper took place at the Mount Zion at the same building housing the tomb of King David. It is also also place where the crucifixion took place at the Calvary (known as Golgotha).

Although not unanimously approved by all nations, it acts as the capital of Israel, yet there are no embassies in the city as all are located in Tel Aviv instead. And then is Palestine that also claims the city as their territory, considering it the capital of the State of Palestine. Not far from the city you can see the separation walls built by Israel in order to control the border and land of each of the territories acting as a security measure too between the ever conflicting nations. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Bethlehem, (Israel)

“Beit Lachama”, “Bayt Laḥm”, “House of Meat”, “House of Bread”

Bethlehem, Palestine, March 2015

After already spending the day before sightseeing in Jerusalem, we planned in between a half day visit to Bethlehem. A city impossible to miss while visiting Israel, although I should say in this instance, Palestine since the city is already at the other side of the border. Yet not a country fully recognized by all nations and ever disputed with Israel. Anyway, geo-political and politics as overall is something I don’t like to discuss in my blog. My purpose here is to give you an overview on culture and architecture on the most easy, simple and reasonable way.

Although a cute small size city, it boats a huge history. Destroyed several times, rebuilt even since. From its origins as a Canaanite city around 1400BCE, to Israeli, Judean, Roman, Byzantine, Muslim, Crusader, Ottoman, Egyptian, British and Palestinian.

But for what people know it much better is for being the birthplace of Jesus. As such, this is pilgrim destination number one for the Christian world. Everywhere around the city is site of a biblical event, some of the major places you will find described below. You cannot miss those, they are the must does in the city; although nothing can top the Basilica of the Nativity for obvious reasons. Expect many groups of tourists in constant transit, while long queues build up to enter the Grotto of the Nativity. You need to be smart to have your perfect picture and what is now the trend, a selfie with the Silver Star. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Masada and the Desert of Judea, (Israel)

“Hebrew meaning for Fortress”, “The last Jewish holdout to fall to Rome”

Desert of Judea and Masada, Israel, March 2015

On a rather unplanned and unexpected free extra day that happened out of miracle; well, I confess, because of having nothing else to see and do back in Tel Aviv as we saw everything in just one day (and even less!), this was the best that could have happened in the trip. Although I heard of this place before, I did not even think of it nor remembered when i planned the Israel tour. Too short time and too much already in the agenda. But was thanks to my friend who reminded it to me that If any some spare time, we should not miss the chance of getting here.

Not only this worked great, but also the route we took to get there. We did only know about 3 possible routes. One we discarded immediately merely because it crosses through Palestine in quite a disputed area, but the other 2 we only selected the shortest one. Glad this was the choice! From Arad, were both of the routes lead to Masada, one avoids the Judea Desert and goes towards the Dead Sea where one of the entrances to Masada is. The easiest route and easiest access via the cable car. But the other enters the Judea Desert and crosses incredible beautiful scenery, and offers the best view of the entire Masada and the Dead Sea from far and above. As I will also remind you below under the transportation section, do not hesitate in choosing the route you want to drive. This is for sure your best bet. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, (Israel)

“Named after Roman Emperor Tiberius”, “Arabic Ṭabariyyah”, “Tveria”

Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee, Israel, March 2015

Squeezing to the limit on an already extremely busy non-stop day we managed to somehow leave Nazareth with just enough time before the sunset and make a quick visit to Tiberias and the Sea of Galilee. And all thanks that we had a rental car we were able to do this as otherwise depending on public transportation would have been probably impossible to visit everything in just one day, unless visiting just the Basilica of the Annunciation in Nazareth and nothing else and quickly leaving the city for the Sea of Galilee as unfortunately most of the organised tours do.

At only 40 kilometers to the north east of Nazareth it’s a quick and easy drive there. For us this was more of a “we must reach this place so we can say we’ve been there” just because of the Biblical means, rather than a properly pre-planned excursion, although a much realistic reason was our incredible shortage of spare time. I would have preferred to have had enough time to spend a whole day circling the entire Sea of Galilee, that’s for sure.

Although much of the ancient city was destroyed years back in natural disasters as earthquakes and flooding from the Sea of Galilee, the little that remained (apart from religious constructions) was razed in 1949 over objections of who owned the houses. Saying this, do not expect to see a beautiful city unfortunately. And even on the last years there has been a better track of preservation and reconstruction projects, there is not much from the original Roman, Crusaders, Ottoman and newer eras. Instead, ugly large hotels aligning the main promenade and some historical buildings behind. (more…)

Share it with the world

Continue Reading

You've reached the end

No more pages to load

Close Menu
Translate »